By Marion V. Ali
Leonardo DiCaprio, the main actor in the movie, “Titanic” is planning on building a five-star, ecological, luxury resort on his privately owned island, Blackadore Caye.
DiCaprio purchased the 104-acre Blackadore island for $1.75 million in 2005, when he first visited Belize and described the country as “heaven on earth”.
Since then, he has ensured that a first environmental impact assessment was completed for the project. That was done in 2007, but following the inclusion of a new component for the project a couple years ago, the Department of the Environment has asked the developers to include a proposal for the new component and to re-submit the entire proposal for review.
Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Allegria, told The Reporter that it would take about three months for the second submission to get approval, if it meets all the requirements of the department.
Blackador island is is located between the mainland and Ambergris Caye – just minutes away from the world famous Belize Barrier Reef.
DiCaprio, an advocate for wildlife and environmental preservation, told the New York Times last week that he wants to lead the way with innovated green technology – that is, showing that one can have the best of both worlds: luxury fueled by natural energy sources, such as water, sun and wind.
‘I couldn’t have gone to Belize and built on an island and done something like this, if it weren’t for the idea that it could be groundbreaking in the environmental movement’, he said. He has partnered with Paul Scialla, the chief executive of Delos, a New York City-based developer, to construct the multi-million-dollar tourist resort.
The 68 guest villas on Blackadore Caye will be built over a massive platform that will stretch in the shape of an arc over the Caribbean Sea, with artificial reefs and fish shelters underneath the platform. The resort will be built using as many local materials as possible. The developers also plan to use local laborers, who will be trained in green-building techniques.
The Times also reports that “a nursery on the island will grow indigenous marine grass to support a manatee conservation area, and mangrove trees will be replanted, replacing invasive species.”
To carefully restore and protect the ecological features of the island, which is uninhabited, and to monitor the resort’s impact on its surroundings, a team of designers, scientists, engineers and landscape architects have spent around 18 months studying Blackadore Caye.
The Times states that when it opens to guests in 2018, Blackadore Caye “will feature the trappings of many luxury resorts, with sprawling villas, infinity pools and stunning sunset views.”
Part of the project is also to restore a once vibrant Blackadore Caye, which over the years has suffered from overfishing, an eroding coastline and deforestation of its mangroves. Almost 45 percent of the island will be designated as a conservation area.
Guests who stay at the resort will be provided with a list of guidelines of do’s & dont’s the Times report says.
“Plastic water bottles, for example, will not be allowed on the island. Once there, guests will go through an ecology orientation program.”
DiCaprio sits on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund.